The following is a translation of the speech by Pope Tawadros ii , Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, to the Holy Father at the General Audience on Wednesday morning, 10 May.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen!
Beloved Brother, Your Holiness Pope Francis,
Dear Father, Brothers and Sisters,
I wish to convey my best wishes to you, on behalf of the members of the Holy Synod and of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt and abroad, and my congratulations for the 10th anniversary of your divine election as Pope and Bishop of Rome. I appreciate all that you have done during this time of service to the whole world in all fields, and I pray that Christ will keep you in full health and grant you the blessing of a long life. Christ is risen! He is truly risen!
As I look at this place now, my mind returns to ten years ago on this same date and I remember your dearest affection in welcoming me and the delegation of the Coptic Church on my first visit, and how we spent a holy time together, filled with your fraternal love.
This love became a sign and a motto that we celebrate each year on the “Day of brotherly love”. We speak and write to each other to renew it each year and it is a day that embodies Christian spirit and the love that we share in serving God and in serving our brothers and sisters in humanity, so that we can fulfil what John the Beloved said: “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 Jn 4:7).
We have chosen love even though this goes against the grain with respect to the greedy and selfish world; we have accepted the challenge of love that Christ asks of us, and we will be true Christians and the world will become more humane because the entire world will know that God is love and that this is his greatest name.
This date also coincides with the 50th anniversary of His Holiness Pope Shenouda iii’s visit to His Holiness Pope Paul vi, and this makes it even more important and seminal for relations between our Churches.
I cannot forget to thank you with great joy for your precious visit to Egypt in 2017 which was a very great blessing for all of Egypt, and when you said: In this exciting journey, which — like life itself — is not always easy and straightforward, but on which the Lord exhorts us to persevere, we are not alone. Through it God spurs us to go forward, He spurs us to be a living image of the heavenly Jerusalem from now onwards.
Let us journey together along the paths of life, bearing in mind that “this is what he has promised us, eternal life” (1 Jn 2:25), accompanying and supporting one another with prayers, in accordance with this promise. Despite the differences between our roots and memberships, we are joined by Christ’s love which abides in us and by the multitude of our Apostle fathers, and saints that surround us and guide us.
We have come to you on this blessed morning, from the Land where Mark the Apostle preached, and his See was established in Alexandria as one of the most ancient Apostolic Sees in the world, the land of Egypt. History and civilization tell us that it belongs to nature: its father is history and its mother geography.
I have come to you from the Coptic Church that was founded in ancient times by a prophecy in the book of the prophet Isaiah: “In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border” [Is 19:19]. It was sanctified by the visit of the Holy Family, who blessed the land from east to west, and from north to south.
Egypt from where Christian monasticism spread and established itself with its Saints Anthony, Macarius and Pachomius, inspiring the school of Alexandria, beacon of theology in history which was and continues to be a sacred place of prayer before God. And we believe that it is kept not only in God’s hands but also in his heart.
I am standing here in the place where the Apostles Paul and Peter preached and I am pleased to meet with you in this magnificent Square. I contemplate these columns that support this place, recalling God’s promise to the angels of Philadelphia: “He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it” (Rev 3:12). I ask all of you to keep this promise in order to conquer evil in the world with all its weaknesses as our fathers taught us, to be up to the responsibility we have and live like a sweet scent of Christ in this world, and to gather together for His peace.
Let us walk in this world as He walked, let us sing with David in his psalm: “My steps have held fast to thy paths, my feet have not slipped” (Ps 17:5) and let us invoke for the whole world a peace that transcends all minds, praying for its arrival everywhere and that it may be the priority of leaders and peoples.
I pray with you today that God may listen to our prayers.
Thanks to everyone!